We mentioned the native Ubuntu based smartphone project back in January, but haven’t heard much about it since. The popular Linux distribution’s parent company, Canonical, has been working behind the scenes to bring the entire Ubuntu OS to smartphones and even demoed it at CES, but at the time release was still mere speculation.

However, now Canonical CEO Mark Shuttleworth has said that the first Ubuntu-based smartphones will be available to customers in October of this year. Still, we don’t know any of the hardware partners, but a device of some sort should go on sale before the end of this year. This is in addition to developer builds of the OS for the Galaxy Nexus, which will be posted late this month. Unfortunately, although North America is mentioned as being a “key market” for the company, it isn’t specifically mentioned as one of the “two geographic markets” that will get Ubuntu devices later this year.

I’m currently busy testing out Windows Phone 8 as an alternative to Android, but since I use a variant of Ubuntu Linux on my desktop computer, I can’t wait to see how well it works on smartphones. It likely won’t take the market away from Android, iOS, and Windows Phone, but alternatives are always good. In fact, desktop Linux has been the source of plenty of OSX and Windows improvements, so perhaps the same can happen with smartphones.